He goes by a lot of names: the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the King of the Jews, and Rabbi. Jesus led an ordinary life despite being the Son of God. Seen as both a holy man and a historical figure, he healed the sick, taught in temples as a young child, and even gave his followers authority to spread the Word of God.
Despite all these, experts still debate whether Jesus lived a sacred life as a man or a man who led a religious revolution. The possible existence of Jesus Christ is intriguing in itself. Though his life raises more questions than answers, here are 50 facts on Jesus Christ, his holy life, and more.
His conception was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
The Old Testament revealed hints of the coming Messiah, but only the Book of Isaiah was specific with the details. In Isaiah 7:14 the prophet said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The New Testament’s Book of Matthew confirmed the fulfillment of the prophecy through the birth of Jesus.
Prophet Micah predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Named as one of the Twelve Minor Prophets, Micah the Morashtite had prophesied that the birthplace of the Messiah will be a small village in Jerusalem. The Book of Micah says, “But thou, Bethlehem… yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.” Again, the Book of Matthew recalled and confirmed this prophecy. The Virgin Mary did give birth to Jesus in Bethlehem.
Some theologians believed Jesus wasn’t born in a stable.
The gospels of Matthew and Luke have similar descriptions of the nativity. Also written there was baby Jesus laid in a manger, but it may just be a case of “lost in translation.” Since the first bible was written in Greek, theologians had disagreements on whether phatne pertains to a crib, a stall, or a manager. Though it’s widely accepted that he was born at a stable, some theorized it was in a cave since that was where first-century people kept their livestock.
Christ means “the anointed one.”
Jesus was commonly followed by “son of Joseph” or “the carpenter” due to his parentage and profession. The title Christ was rooted in the Greek word christos meaning “the anointed one”, to symbolize that he was chosen by God to lead people to salvation.
At least 14,000 babies were killed under King Herod’s order.
Not everyone was happy with Christ’s coming, especially not King Herod. In the gospel of Matthew, the Three Wise Men told King Herod of the prophesied coming of the “King of Kings.” He was furious, thinking a mere child would soon replace him. The king ordered to have all the male children, two years old and below, killed. These children were one of the first martyrs. Before the Christmas holidays are over, the Philippines honor these children by observing Niños Inocentes (Feast of the Holy Innocents).
Two gospel passages revealed that Jesus had siblings.
A debate whether the brothers Jesus meant were his apostles, exists, but some say otherwise. The gospels of Mark and Matthew mentioned James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon as “brothers of the Lord.” These verses also mentioned that Jesus had sisters as well. Antidicomarianites (or “opponents of Mary”) support this claim and believed that Mary became a widow with six children when Joseph died before Jesus became an adult.
At least 18 years of his life was not documented in the bible.
It always confused religious scholars and historians alike on why there were no written records of Jesus’ life. After all, it was strange to miss 18 years of someone’s life, especially for an important figure like the Messiah. History believes that “if it was important, it would have been included in the Bible.” Some accounts say his family left Bethlehem, while some say he traveled all over the world, others say he was away studying.
He grew up in the town of Nazareth.
Jesus lived his life as any ordinary man in the first century would. Given a common name, he worked as a carpenter, and had friends he grew up with. The small town of Nazareth only had 2,000 people. Some scholars consider Nazareth as Jesus’ birthplace, some say it’s where his parents resettled after coming from Bethlehem.
His second cousin baptized him.
Jesus and John are second cousins through their mothers. Theologians explained that the miracle of John the Baptist’s birth was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. This was true, of course, as the Baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River marked the beginning of Christ’s ministry.
Jesus had 12 apostles.
Without The Twelve, Christianity wouldn’t become as it did. The 12 apostles are Jesus’ friends, followers, and preachers. They are the brothers Peter and Andrew, the sons of Zebedee James and John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the reformed tax collector), James the son of Alphaeus, Jude, Simon, and Judas Iscariot. They were the men instrumental in creating the foundation of Christianity.
Only three people from the bible, including Jesus, were able to fast for 40 days.
Jesus endured hunger at the Judean Desert for 40 days while the devil continued to tempt him. This is still one of the most popular bible stories which taught people how fasting is an important part of faith. The deliverer of Israelites, Moses, and the miracle worker, Elijah, were two other prophets who completed the long fasting days before Jesus did.
Jesus liked praying alone at the Eremos Cave.
Modern self-care is retail therapy and indulging in food. The son of God rather liked his alone time and didn’t always enjoy earthly pleasures. Eremos cave, rooted in the Greek word eremos meaning “deserted place,” is where Jesus liked to spend his time. The gospel of Mark recalled that part of Jesus’ daily routine is to wake up really early to pray at the “lonely place.”
There’s still an ongoing debate about whether Jesus had his own family.
The lost “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” was written centuries after Jesus died, the Ancient Egyptian text implied that he had two children with Mary Magdalene. Duke University religious studies professor Mark Goodacre believes “there is simply no evidence” in this claim.
Via Dolorosa was the path he took before he was crucified.
Repeatedly mocked and tortured by the Roman soldiers, Jesus carried a heavy cross on the way to Golgotha. The half-mile path where he walked and stumbled is called Via Dolorosa (“way of sorrows”), and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. This path also inspired the 14 Stations of the Cross.
INRI is the Latin abbreviation for “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum.”
The written inscription on the cross contains the last mockeries Jesus received before he died. It reads INRI or Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, a Latin phrase which translates to “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” In other Bible translations, it means “King of the Judeans.”
His last words were, “Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit.”
It’s important to understand why Jesus uttered the Seven Last Words. Specifically directed to another, each one encompasses his suffering, his promise, and his faith. His Last Words spread across the gospels and the Psalms. On his last breath, he put his trust in God and said, “Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit.”
Experts believe Jesus died due to hematidrosis.
Extreme hunger and dehydration, the constant beatings, combined with several injuries in a span of three days, should cause anyone to feel tired and short of breath. The gospel of Luke revealed that Jesus was sweating blood while he was crucified. The gospel of Luke noticed this phenomenon. Hematidrosis is a condition that “results in the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat.”
Some scholars believed his death coincided with a solar eclipse.
The darkness during Jesus’ death didn’t just signify God claiming his son. The gospels of Luke, Mark, revealed the time frame of Jesus’ death before the darkness came. Some say a solar or lunar eclipse happened, or maybe a translation error occured. There’s still no actual explanation as to what it truly was, but modern scholars believe it’s just a literary interpretation.
Six women witnessed the risen Christ.
Jesus coming back to life is God’s way of restoring his exalted life as the savior. It’s not surprising that the women knew about Jesus’ resurrection first. Historically, women put ointments and replace the bandages of the dead on the third day. Accounts vary on whether there were three or six women at the tomb. His mother Mary, Joanna (wife of Chuza), Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of James and Joseph), Mary (wife of Clopas), and Salome (mother of James and John), both relatives and followers of Christ’s ministry, were the ones who discovered the empty tomb.
The Shroud of Turin is one of the most well-preserved Jesus relics.
It’s hard to believe that a linen cloth bearing the image of Jesus the Nazareth survived for centuries. According to Shroud.com, it is “the single most studied artifact in human history.” The cloth is 4.3 meters long and 1.1 meters wide, with a clear imprint of a man’s face. Famous French knight Geoffroi de Charnay brought the Shroud to the bishop of Troyes in 1354, which scientific experts and theologians alike continuously study it until now.
The Holy Week is a commemoration of Jesus’ life and death.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of two things: fasting and the countdown to the Holy Week. Britannica defines the Holy Week as “the events leading up to Jesus’ death by crucifixion and, according to their faith, his Resurrection.” The seven days are his triumphant entry to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), the cleansing of the temple (Holy Monday), the prediction of his death (Holy Tuesday), the prayer at Gethsemane (Holy Wednesday), the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), the crucifixion (Good Friday), his burial (Black Saturday), and his Resurrection (Easter Sunday).
Isaiah also prophesied Jesus’ resurrection.
Easter is not just hunting colorful eggs from the Easter Rabbit, it’s a celebration. The prophet Isaiah had been mostly correct when it comes to Jesus. Aside from the coming of the Messiah, he also realized his death. In Isaiah 53, he said, “after he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”
Saint Peter also died on the crucifix… upside down!
There’s a common misconception that the upside-down cross is the devil’s symbol. Despite persecution, the apostles spread and preached everywhere after Jesus’ death. While some survived and spread Christianity, some died. Emperor Nero had the very first pope, Saint Peter, crucified. He said he didn’t deserve to die like his teacher, so he requested to erect the cross upside down. According to Evidence for Christianity, his body “is contained in a crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.”
Major religions believe Jesus was a teacher and a miracle worker.
Despite him being one of the central characters in modern Christianity, he is also a popular figure in other Eastern religions. The Jews believe he was Mary’s son, the Muslims called him a wise teacher, the Hindus consider him a holy man, and the Buddhists regard him as an enlightened man.
The Mysteries of Light was added to the rosary in 2002.
Though the rosary tells the story of Jesus’ conception and death, it remains as a prayer dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Back in 2002, the late Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries or the Mysteries of Light. These Mysteries that “focus on the public life of Jesus” is the Baptism of Jesus, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, and the Last Supper.
The halo in religious portraits was a nod to Apollo.
Most children believe that the halo can only be exclusively meant for angels, saints, and martyrs. Though it’s commonly seen in medieval Christian paintings, it actually had pagan origins. The halo was once used to identify the Greek god Apollo. It was an avoided symbol until the end of the 4th century. The golden circle illuminating these holy characters has been around for centuries. Kings and emperors believed that God chose them to rule, so as a sign, they had their royal portraits commissioned with a halo.
The Jesus Film is the most-watched movie of all time.
The 1979 film prides itself on being historically and biblically accurate. With almost 2,000 language translations, The Guinness Book of World Records has awarded The Jesus Film as the “Most Translated Film” as of April 2020. These translations helped in further spreading the word of God, also making it the most-watched movie of all time.
He looked like an average Middle Eastern man.
The prophet Isaiah once said, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Commonly depicted as a tall, blue-eyed, long-bearded man with fair skin, Jesus led a common man’s life despite being the Son of God. Israeli and British forensic anthropologists accurately pictured Jesus as a typical Palestinian-Jewish man of average height with brown eyes, black hair, and olive skin.
Jesus Christ Superstar came from Judas Iscariot’s point of view.
English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is a legend in the entertainment industry. He wrote Broadway classics like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Evita. Webber also wrote the light-hearted musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat based on the bible’s Book of Genesis. The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar is one of his most popular works, which tells the story of the titular character, but instead told in the eyes of Judas Iscariot. It’s common knowledge that he betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins and hanged himself for it, but the musical colors it as God’s mission to the apostle.
C.S. Lewis depicted Jesus’ life through Aslan.
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the most popular children’s book series. British author C.S. Lewis wrote the classics between 1949 and 1954. The installment The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe introduced Aslan, a talking lion who rules all of Narnia.
The author confirmed the parallels between Jesus and Aslan, like how a much-higher being sent them both (God and the Emperor-over-the-Sea), how they went through public execution (crucifixion and the stabbing at the Stone Table), and then returning to life after three days.